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GM Makes Internet Buying Tool Available to All U.S. Dealers

Buyers can handle entire transaction on the Web.

by on Nov.06, 2013

Just a week after saying the company was piloting Shop-Click-Drive with 100 dealers, GM made it available to all 4,300 U.S. dealers.

One week after General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson said the company wanted to make it easier to buy cars and trucks online in partnership with its dealers and that it was piloting a program, the company rolled out its expanded Shop-Click-Drive tool to all GM dealers nationwide.

The tool allows users to complete all aspects of a purchase online, from getting a price to applying for financing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. GM’s 4,300 Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC dealerships can feature the Shop-Click-Drive tool on their Web sites.

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“We want to make it easier and simpler for dealers to connect with customers who are looking to combine the convenience of online shopping with the personal service of a neighborhood dealership,” said GM’s Kurt McNeil, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations. “We engaged dealers to help us develop ‘Shop-Click-Drive’ to address this need.” (more…)

Ex-GM Dealers Win Round in Court

But the fight’s not over.

by on Mar.04, 2011

A Canadian court certifies a dealer class action against GM seeking $750 million in damages.

More than 200 Canadian dealers who went out of business as General Motors Corp. re-organized in 2009 have succeeded in getting their $750 million class action suit certified.

An Ontario court granted the former Canadian dealers the ability to present their suit, which claims that General Motors of Canada Limited breached provincial franchise laws in eliminating the dealerships.  As part of the maker’s 2009 bankruptcy it decided to eliminate several thousand dealers on both sides of the border.

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Eventually, however, a sizable share of the American retailers were brought back into the fold, either by GM reversing positions or by appealing their case through an arbitration system set up by the U.S. Congress.

Also named in the suit is Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP (Cassels), a major Canadian law firm retained to act for the Canadian GM dealers in anticipation of a GM restructuring. The dealers claim that Cassels was in a conflict of interest by simultaneously acting for the Government of Canada in connection with the GM auto bailout. Like the U.S., one of the conditions for GM to access billions of dollars of Canadian government funding was the elimination of a large number of its dealers.


GM Wraps Up Bitter Dealer Arbitration Process

Will trim dealer count to 4,500, but 100s more saved.

by on Aug.06, 2010

The new face of Cadillac; GM is expecting 1,000 retailers to upgrade this year.

General Motors has wrapped up its often-contentious effort to trim its dealership network, eliminating more than 1,500 outlets, but saving roughly 500 more than it originally had hoped to terminate — for a total of 4,500.

The maker says the downsized distribution system, which will still be the nation’s largest, should help it become more competitive in the wake of its 2009 bankruptcy and the elimination of four of its eight North American brands.

“A strong, profitable dealer network selling and servicing the world’s best cars and trucks is a genuine market advantage,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM’s U.S. operations.

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In June 2009, in the midst of its Chapter 11 reorganization, GM had 6,049 retail outlets in the U.S.  As part of its restructuring, the maker abandoned the Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac brands and eventually sold off Saab, simultaneously moving to “wind down” its franchise agreements with 2,064 retailers.


Chrysler May Re-Hire Nearly 100 Dealers

Maker reportedly backing off on hard-line stance.

by on Mar.25, 2010

Chrysler could reinstate as many as 100 dealers fired last year. The termination left outlets, like this one in Mt Clemens, MI, scrambling to find ways to stay in busiess.

Chrysler is reportedly ready to bring back as many as 100 of the dealers that it terminated, last year, as part of its bankruptcy.

The news – still unconfirmed by the smallest of the Detroit makers – comes just three weeks after General Motors also reversed course, re-hiring 661 of the dealers it fired in an effort to consolidate its retail network.

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The Detroit Three, as a group, have been trimming their distribution chains, in recent years, taking a page from import brands, like Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, which have found that fewer showrooms can actually improve sales and profitability.


GM Agrees to Rehire 661 Dealers

Another 439 retailers still face arbitration.

by on Mar.05, 2010

It's time to move on, says GM President Mark Reuss.

In a sharp reversal of course, General Motors has agreed to reinstate 661 of the more than 2,000 dealers it had planned to eliminate after its bankruptcy, last year, though more than 400 other retailers may yet be reprieved through a Congressionally-mandated arbitration process.

The final GM dealer count is yet to be determined, company officials cautioned, during a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon, but it will likely approach 5,000 by the time all is wrapped up.  That’s significantly more than the 4,100 retailers the automaker had hoped to go forward with, but still far less than the 6,150 dealers that were representing General Motors in the U.S., as recently as December 2008.

“We are eager to restore relationships with our dealers, and get back to doing what we do best – selling cars and taking care of customers,” said Mark Reuss, President, GM North America.

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When GM filed for Chapter 11, last year, the maker said it would streamline its retail network, in part reflecting the fact that it planned to eliminate four of eight brands during the bankruptcy process.  The strategy also reflected conventional wisdom that since there’d be more sales per showroom dealers, in turn, would be willing to invest more in the surviving General Motors brands.


Over 1,200 Ousted Dealers File for Arbitration

GM’s Whitacre says, “We’ll get through this.”

by on Jan.25, 2010

"We'll get through this," says GM CEO Ed Whitacre as ousted dealers get ready for arbitration.

They have until midnight to file their claims, and General Motors’ new, full-time CEO expects there’ll be some more dealers rushing in to demand aritration before time runs out.  But as of mid-afternoon Monday, more than 1,200 ousted GM and Chrysler dealers have taken the first critical steps necessary to winning back their franchises.

As part of their bankruptcy filings, earlier this year, the two automakers announced plans to eliminate more than a third of their dealers, in a bid to streamline their retail operations.  But the politically well-connected dealers didn’t go quietly into the night and Congress passed legislation giving the retailers a chance to fight back.

The final tally seeking arbitration could come close to half of the roughly 2,000 dealers cut by GM and 789 Chrysler slashed.  The numbers were growing rapidly, the industry trade publication, Automotive News, noted, reporting that as of Friday, only 959 dealers had paid at least $500 of the $1,625 filing fee.

How many of those dealers will actually pursue reinstatement is unclear.  Records show that only a third of business arbitration cases go to conclusion, not all favorably for the filers.  But considering the potential multi-million dollar losses involved in the closing of a showroom, observers say it’s a safe bet to at least begin the arbitration process while there’s still time.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the suits to work their way through the system, though Congress set a six-and-a-half month deadline for the process.  It’s possible that some dealers will settle while others will abandon their efforts.

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Earlier this month, GM CEO Ed Whitacre acknowledges that “mistakes” were made in the system the automaker used to choose which dealers to cut.  At the time, he suggested “hundreds” could be reinstated, though he later suggested that might mean a number of around 150.   (more…)

GM Looking to be Back in the Black in 2010, Says Whitacre

Automaker also expects to rehire “hundreds” of dealers.

by on Jan.06, 2010

GM will be back in the black, this year, if "Big Ed" Whitacre has anything to say about it.Just a year after going through its bankruptcy reorganization, General Motors expects to be back in the black for 2010, or so forecast the carmaker’s chairman. But Ed Whitacre, who is also serving as GM’s acting CEO conceded, “there are some obstacles that could get in the way.”

In his second “media roundtable” since taking on the chief executive’s duties at the end of November, a surprisingly candid Whitacre also acknowledged GM “probably made some mistakes” when it dropped more than 1000 dealers as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.  And, as a result, it will likely bring back “hundreds,” he added, through a new, Congressionally-mandated arbitration program.

“It was not a perfect process,” said Whitacre, a former chairman of AT&T.  As a result, some good dealers may have been cut and, he added, they will “be good” to get back into the General Motors retail network.  But Whitacre also expressed concern that GM not be forced to take back “a lousy dealer…arbitrarily.”

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During an hour-long session, GM’s new boss covered a wide range of topics including the search for a permanent CEO, a slot left in limbo by the firing, on November 30th, of former Chief Executive Fritz Henderson.  An outside search firm has been overseeing the process and Whitacre said he expects it to brief the GM Board of Directors soon, though he declined to say when a candidate might be selected.


The Top Ten Auto Stories of 2009

Bankruptcies, bailouts, recalls, oh what a bad year it was!

by on Dec.30, 2009

Brother, can you spare a dime? The jet-setting Detroit Three at hearings: left, fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner, ex Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli, middle, Ford's surviving CEO Alan Mulally, right.

Every December, a group of auto scribes gathers together to share some good cheer and see how we did at predicting the events of the unfolding year. To be honest, even the best of the group failed to come close to calling the big stories of 2009.

No surprise, really, when you consider the strange twists and turns the auto industry has taken during the last 12 months.  Even the best fiction writers would have had trouble scripting this plot.

Sure, there were signs that the auto industry was slumping, and that the Detroit’s Three were in trouble, but having both General Motors and Chrysler go bankrupt?  And the U.S. government become majority owner of GM, with Italian automaker Fiat controlling Chrysler?  And what about Toyota?  Twelve months ago, most of us were writing about the fact that the giant Japanese automaker seemed certain to become the world’s largest automaker, finally overtaking troubled GM.  So, who could have begun to suspect all the problems that would follow for Toyota in 2009?  And what about the unexpected rise of the Chinese?

Top Ten!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The fact is, there were so many big stories in 2009 it may be impossible to come up with a fair, accurate and complete list of the 10 Top Auto Stories that everyone will agree on.  But I’ll try.

And would like to encourage readers to come up with the stories they would add to the list.  Just go to the Comments section at the end of this story.


Lawmakers Reach Dealer Arbitration Compromise

Bill could offer reprieve to thousands of GM, Chrysler dealers.

by on Dec.09, 2009

Asst. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin has helped craft a compromise that could give a reprieve to some of the thousands of dealersv GM and Chrysler want to cut.

Asst. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin has helped craft a compromise that could give a reprieve to some of the thousands of dealersv GM and Chrysler want to cut.

Federal lawmakers have reached a compromise on a measure that could provide a reprieve for some of the thousands of dealers cut by General Motors and Chrysler as part of their bankruptcy reorganizations.

The two companies collectively cut more than 2,100 retailers, asserting that they needed to streamline their distribution systems and focus on high-volume showrooms that generated solid marks for customer satisfaction.  But those moves generated an immediate backlash among dealers, who make up of the most politically powerful lobbying forces in the country.

The new measure, which would require arbitrators to balance the economic interests of dealers, the two carmakers and the public, has been endorsed by both House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

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“Closed dealerships across the country deserve a transparent review of their termination and the right to get back in business if they were terminated on faulty grounds,” said Durbin, adding, “GM and Chrysler have the right to determine the size and scope of their business. But Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayer’s money when addressing the future of companies like GM and Chrysler.”


Chrysler, GM Offer Olive Leaf to Dealers

Move could save some dealers already shuttered, others who might close.

by on Dec.03, 2009

This former Chrysler dealership, in the Detroit suburb of Mt. Clemens, will turn to Indian automaker Mahindra in a bid to survive.

This former Chrysler dealership, in the Detroit suburb of Mt. Clemens, will turn to Indian automaker Mahindra in a bid to survive.

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LCC will reconsider decisions to close thousands of dealerships as part of a compromise meant to stave off federal legislation that would require them to keep the showrooms open.

Just how many dealers could  stay open remains unclear and neither company made any specific commitments or estimates. Dealers involved in negotiations with both companies also said it is likely that only a handful closed dealerships will get a new lease on life from the review.

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The plans of GM and Chrysler Group LLC call for face-to-face reviews with dealerships and binding arbitration for those who challenge closure of their showrooms. Chrysler said its review process would start Thursday while GM said talks with dealers would begin in mid-January.